A: Yes. All translations under the My Translations tab are done from the original, and not from an intermediate "literal" translation.
Q: You're a freak.
A: I guess.
Q: Where/when/how did you learn to speak your (insert language-name here)? Why is your accent so hard hard to place.
A: Beyond the phonological transfer from my first language (American English), there could be many reasons: My pronunciation of Literary Arabic is mainly based upon my observation and recordings of the speech of Palestinians I encountered with while living in Jerusalem. My Dutch pronunciation is (by aesthetic choice) based on Belgian dialects, rather than those of the Netherlands. My Persian pronunciation, again owing to biographical accident, varies between Afghan and Iranian. My Spanish contains a rather crazy salad of Latin American and Iberian features thanks to a crazy salad of teachers (who themselves were often crazy, as many good language teachers often seem to be.) My Russian pronunciation, in addition to the American accent that seems to fade in and out, is distinctly non-Muscovite (thanks to years of exposure to white Russian emigrés and their descendants.)
Q: It seems like you left out (insert poem here) by (insert author here) which is at least as important as (insert other poem here) which you did translate. Don't you have any sense of taste?
A: Yes, I do have a sense of taste. But, even allowing for differences of taste, my selection is probably going to seem a little weird to anyone familiar with the traditions I translate from. That's because some poems which I would dearly like to make available to English readers have defeated all my attempts at translating them. In fact there are whole literary traditions (like Classical Arabic, for instance) that are all but impossible to bring over to western readership. My choices are influenced not only by personal taste, but by translatability and my own rather severe limitations.
Q: Are these the droids I'm looking for?
A: These are not the droids you're looking for
Q: In one of the poems, the word/phrase you translated as meaning X really means Y. Would you mind correcting the mistake? And why did you insert this bit here which isn't at all in the original? You should stick to the original text!
A: I have no interest in literal translation, and if my translation differs from the literal dictionary meaning of a word or phrase, I had a reason for it. As for insertions and such, they have their reasons too. The exigencies of differing languages and traditions often require me to zig where the original zags to preserve whatever made the original worth reading. (I really don't need another posterchild for eugenics telling me in a comment that I shouldn't have rendered a phrase as "wind-weary" because it actually means "tired of the wind." )
That said, sometimes I do just misread things. So, take this into account before you let your good intentions pave the road to hell across my in-box.
Q: Your review of my book was mean! What's wrong with you?
A: Blow me. If I gave you a less-than-stellar review, you probably deserved it. I don't care about being nice, as a reviewer. I care about being fair and honest. If I said that your book was flawed, then I said so in all fairness and honesty. If you want to debate the points I make in the review, go ahead and make a comment in the comment box, instead of emailing me, so that our debate is open to the internet.
Q: Is that really your voice on all the recordings?
Q: What is that graphic in your site header at the top of this window? Am I supposed to recognize it?
A: That's the logo I picked out. It's a stylized image of the Rosetta Stone atop the Tower of Babel
Q: What's your favorite language?
A: Welsh wins hands down, with Arabic and Persian tying for second place.
Q: What are your favorite poems
A: That's a hard question to answer. How about instead I list some of my favorite translations that I've done:
A Night in the Moon, by Du Fu
Lullaby, by Huw Meirion Edwards
Longgully Ballad, by Li Bai
Ode 3.30, by Horace
Ghazal 98, by Hafiz
Notre Dame, by Mandelstam
Q: Why are you going through my underwear drawer?
A: I thought maybe your mom had misplaced my clothes with yours after I left her room last night.